The World Doesn’t End – Charles Simic

The World Doesn't End

“Pudding, why on earth would you roam the streets in a torn skirt?”
“Little Lizzie, it’s you isn’t it?” The woman with purple dye in her hair stood at the tiny iron gate. “Yes, it’s me, you wayward child!” An infant cradled among the exposed saggy breasts. “Shssshhh…… my sonny boy is trying to sleep”. She shoos the birds from pecking the child’s forehead. “What is that you are reading?” “ Charles Simic”, I say. “Is he that one-legged shorty who rings the church bells?” “ Nah-uh! He’s a poet, pens prose poetry”. “The word you are looking for is “NO”, child!”. “Read me some….” said the clumsy woman covered with specks of fish scales. The silvery mackerel lies half open, the stench of the fish gut spills from the wet stony plank. “Pudding, wear your glasses!”…..

My mother was a braid of black smoke
She bore me swaddled over the burning cities
The sky was a vast and windy place for a child to play.
We met many others who were just like us…………….

“War is ugly “, winces Little Lizzie who had cut the sleeves from her husband’s white shirts. A bow tie no more adorns the wispy collars. The Russians, The English, men with Halloween mask, the spirited chimera devoured, the child running through the gray-brick tenements showing off a mask of comedy, the time of minor poets had come.

Thousands of old men with pants lowered sleeping in public restrooms.
You’re exaggerating! You’re raving!
Thousands of Marias,of Magdalenas at their feet weeping.

A roadside drunk muttering the looming human apocalypse stumbled on his very own Magdalena.It’s past 11am. The lanky moustached butcher walks by waving to Lizzie. He scrubs the blood off the wooden board, the steely cleaver restored with his shining glory. The stained cloth neatly tucked at his tiresome waist. Couple hours into the day and the cloth will once again scrub off the blood; his daughter’s from the walls of his home. The humble cloth, now a poignant memoir of two lives. The old man trying to pick a pebble is flung off the road by a speeding car. “ Say your Hail Marys and read me some more”, yells Little Lizzie.

The stone is a mirror which works poorly.
Nothing in it but dimness. Your dimness or its dimness, who’s to say? In the hush your heart sound like a black cricket.

Who’s to say? The opaqueness of the stone equating the impenetrable hazy mirror of a man’s past; the chronological anthologies diffused by the lucidity of time. The heart of a black cricket beating in the darkness of a sullen night.

“Hey, Lizzie , will you be making me some Easter Eggs, next month?” “Would you like a purple plump one just like my hair, pudding?” “Could I have five of them, then”. “Child, where are your manners?. It’s please, could I have some?” “ Little Lizzie, are you having fish over rice for dinner?”, I ask smelling the rancid flesh of fish splattered on her palm. “I’ll just dip the dried piece of bread into the coconut sauce. The fish is for my sonny boy. Suddenly, from nowhere a raven flew in and grabbed the fried mackerel. Lizzie smiled, “There, now I’ll eat my bread”. “Read me some Shakespeare!”…… “Shakespeare?… It’s Charles’s prose poem!….. Ah…..” And, then I read….

At least four or five Hamlets on this block alone. Identical Hamlets holding identical monkey-face spinning toys.

The authenticity of one’s self mislaid by the demanding societal responsibility. The reciprocity of human identity destructed by falsehood in a civilization shackled by the distorted patterns of social reflection. The monkey-faced spinning toys were sold at an illuminated street corner where ghostly existence flourished under an inexorable surveillance doomed in the collision of realistic and idealistic puppetry.

“These are dark and evil days”, the mouse told me as he nibbled my ears.

The boy who grew up in poverty nurtured the dream of his father embedded in a faraway land of gold. Born in former Yugoslavia in 1938, he migrated to the land of golden dreams. Famously asserted that Hitler and Stalin were his two travel agents, Charles Simic rebelled the formulated rules of poetry releasing the constrict barriers of stanzas and verses into a boundless scandalous world of prose and honoured it with poetic rousing. Retorting to the selective criticism on his work, Simic articulated, “They look like prose and act like poems, because despite the odds, they make themselves into fly-traps for our imagination.”

“This is not poetry, child! Just some eccentric ramblings of a man…” mumbled Little Lizzie as she laid the wrapped plastic doll in her lap, signing an afternoon lullaby to her sonny boy.

O the great God of Theory, he’s just a pencil stub,a chewed pencil stub with a worn eraser at the of a huge scribble.

Life brims with a potent blend of beauty and evils, surrounded by tragedies, eccentricities and obscurity drawing a huge scribble with a worn-out pencil fruitlessly erased by the reticent atheist and the garrulous campaigner waiting with a fork and knife at a dinner table for the hypothetical cooked goose.

“It’s time for me to go home, Little Lizzie.” She lets out a faint yawn, “Pudding, when would you visit me again, I would like to listen more of these bizarre poems. This strange man appreciates the insignificant fringes that are taken for granted.” “ How about tomorrow morning, after my bakery buy.”, I cheer. Lizzie nods in favour with a cranked smile. “And, for Heaven’s sake wear some clothes, child! You’re naked as the day you were born!”

My secret identity is
The room is empty
And the window is open

The world doesn’t end but commences through the unbolted window releasing a remarkable poet’s unabashed imagination illuminating the unobserved traits of life and society in general assembling piece by piece the magnificence of succinct surreal reveries and the sardonic rationalities normalising the vagueness of arcane delusions and possibility of a comforting verbal individuality.

Little Lizze died two decades ago, she was 6o at the time. And, I’m no longer a child.

Simic asserts the value of using one’s imagination to capture the essence of surrealism, a rarity, as many are embarrassed by the baffling flight of their imagination. I, the diligent follower.

5/5 *****


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